This story was published on April 4, 2014, and was responding to a tip from a reader
A second customer has fallen ill after drinking a free coffee from Waitrose that was contaminated with cleaning fluid.
Father-of-two David Sack was in a rush when he grabbed a free cappuccino at the branch in West Byfleet, Surrey, but felt sick after drinking it.
The 49-year-old, from Dorking, Surrey, went to his GP who then advised him to go to accident and emergency, but he decided against it.
It comes just two weeks after a woman in Lewes, East Sussex, was hospitalised after drinking a coffee given away as part of the chain’s membership card scheme.
The supermarket chain apologised to Mr Sack, and offered him £25 compensation, but he returned the money because the amount was ‘insulting’.
He was then presented with £100, but was pestered by staff telling him he only had 14 days to decide whether to take the cash.
Mr Sack eventually took the money, but was frustrated because it was a ‘serious matter’ that could have had severe consequences.
‘I noticed that the machine only half filled the cup so I brought this to the attention of a staff member nearby, who came over to look at the machine,’ he said.
‘As I was short of time, and not wanting to wait for the fault to be rectified, I took what coffee I had and returned to the school bus I was driving.
The advert reads: Nothing says ‘welcome’ more than a lovely hot cup of tea or coffee
‘I was pleased that the coffee wasn’t as hot as usual, enabling me to take a large glup.
‘I realised, as I swallowed the liquid it wasn’t all coffee, having a bitter chemical flavour. My tongue and roof of my mouth started burning. I felt sick.
‘I drove to the school feeling increasingly unwell. I had a headache. On arrival I was sick. My throat was sore and burning.
Reward: Cups of coffee are being given away in the stores as part of a membership loyalty scheme
‘I telephoned the store, briefly explaining what had happened.
Staff at the store then read the health advice on the cleaning fluid and told him to drink plenty of water.
‘At home I was sick again, and felt ill for the remainder of the day,’ he added.
‘When I contacted the staff, they did not say much, but claimed to have changed their policy.
‘I had been a daily customer at the store, but now I have no need to go back.’
A spokesman for Waitrose said: ‘We are so sorry this happened.
‘We use very diluted cleaner to wash through our machines, but Mr Sack should not have been able to pour a drink while the machine was being rinsed – and we have taken action to prevent it happening again.’
Two weeks ago, paramedics were called to the Lewes, East Sussex branch of the supermarket and advised a woman to visit a specialist burns unit after drinking a coffee that had been contaminated with similar chemicals.
On a local internet forum her husband, who was not named, said his wife had been offered the same compensation – just £25.
He said they spent hours at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Customers who have a myWaitrose are eligible to get a free drink – but many have accused the new clientele of not making purchases and getting in the way
He wrote: ‘Maybe they hadn’t rinsed the machine out, so she ended up drinking a cup of coffee containing cleaning chemicals and then we both spent the morning in Brighton A&E.
Five days later, he added: ‘My wife is still unwell and we just received a letter of apology from Waitrose with a £25 voucher.
‘Am I the only the only one who thinks that’s not really compensatory for the injury and suffering, having to spend hours in A&E, missing a weekend away etc?’
The offer of free drinks began last year, but the store faced a backlash after complaints that branches were being invaded by less well-off shoppers.
Long-standing customers criticised the move for encouraging large numbers of myWaitrose cardholders who have no intention of shopping and merely get in the way.